Grepp Handle Bar Tape: Getting Rolling – by Guitar Ted
Handle bar tapes are usually pretty similar, but when I saw this Grepp handle bar tape, I knew there was something very different going on here. It is a woven tape based on plant based fibers with a bit of a rubber element to it as well. Of course, fiber based handle bar tape is nothing new. In fact, the first handle bar tapes were based on cotton. In one way, Grepp is a throwback to that era when almost everyone with a drop bar was using cotton based handle bar tape.
However; on the other hand, this is a technically advanced accessory that is reusable and could be seen as a more responsible choice for handle bar tape. Grepp handle bar tape is washable as well, so- theoretically – one could even renew the appearance of this handle bar tape to like-new condition.
What It Is: The Grepp tape is based on a synthetically produced, plant based fiber called TENCEL™ which comes from trees. The wood pulp is made into a base from which the fibers are then woven into threads. This is what faces your hands with the Grepp tape. Then Grepp uses pairs of natural rubber threads to face the handle bar and this helps keep the tape from moving or loosening while in use.
Grepp also went to great pains to find a balance between rigidity, strength, and flexibility so the tape would perform at its best and on par with other handle bar tapes on the market. The strength needs to be there so the tape won’t break down too quickly and the flexibility needs to be there so you can wrap the stuff, first of all. Of course, this tape is not invincible and at some point you will need to replace it, but the expectations are that this tape will outlast a typical bar tape. Once it does wear out you can recycle the tape and compost it under certain conditions.
While Grepp tape doesn’t have a cushioning layer, they do suggest a method which they claim will give you some……well, give! They suggest wrapping over a layer of inner tube. Grepp Handle Bar Tape comes in three colors in 3 meter long rolls and includes their special bar end plugs. Grepp Handle Bar Tape is available direct from Grepp and costs $35.00USD.
First Impressions: The box you get has that craft/art appearance and is unlike most any other handle bar tape packaging I’ve ever seen. Maybe Ergon would do bar tape packaging like this, but the artisan-like feel of the presentation made the Grepp tape feel like something a bit more special than other handle bar tapes. Of course, all the packaging is 100% recyclable.
Upon opening up the box you see the two rolls and the fabric appearance seems odd. I mean, most tape is a synthetic, rubbery stuff these days. Or maybe it is a foam-like, cushy tape, or faux-leather, or some nearly inner tube-like stuff. Not fabric! This would be an unusual experience for me.
In the hand the tape has a soft feel and is quite flexible, but pull on it and you’ll find that it doesn’t stretch much, if at all. The backside rubber strands are tacky on a surface, and I can see why they were added. The bar plugs are simply brilliant. Why aren’t all bar end plugs this smartly designed? They expand when you push the center bit in and then lock in place with a snap. Plus, they are lightweight.
Okay, now on to the wrapping. I was very curious how this part would go. So, of course, I chose the most difficult handle bar to wrap that I have here- The Redshift Sports Kitchen Sink Bar with the add-on grips. So many weird contours and twists and turns! I decided to leave off the lower grips though because they would preclude using the bar end plugs. Plus, I wanted to see what three meters worth of tape would cover here.
Before I got started, I watched the Grepp video on how to wrap their tape. Now, I’ve been wrapping drop bars for a quarter century, but I still learned a thing or two which came in very useful. I would strongly recommend watching the video if you purchase this bar tape.
The cool thing here is that if you are not satisfied with how the tape is laying down, you can start over with absolutely no penalties whatsoever. No possibilities of stuck adhesives ripping your new tape apart here! No fouling of the tape’s structure or shape either. Plus, if you get interrupted by a phone call, a door bell, or your two year old wanting a cookie, you can let go of the tape and it won’t instantly unravel, ruining all that hard won progress. Me? I always forget the electrical tape. No more wild stretches to reach for it on my bench with Grepp tape!
But what does that all matter unless the tape lays down well and covers what you want it to? I am glad to report that the Grepp tape did cover the Kitchen Sink Bar well and I had enough length to do the aero extensions! This was great. Now, how does this stuff feel and how does it ride? Well, I’ll have to get in some gravel riding now to find out. But I can say that during my test ride I was a bit surprised to find the Grepp tape a little slick feeling to the hand. It is not as grippy as many other synthetic tapes are. But I want to get in some proper rides and see if this tape has any ‘break-in’ or changes in store for me upon riding it on a gravel route. Stay tuned for the “Checkpoint” post in a few weeks time to find out how this Grepp tape works out for me.
So Far… Grepp Handle Bar tape is an unusual, naturally derived fabric tape which brings a totally different look and feel to your bicycle. The tape does wrap bars well and seems to have good flexibility with little stretch. The tape has enough length to cover most any flared drop bar and comes with ingenious bar end plugs which work very well.
I was a little surprised by the slick hand feel of this tape initially upon my first test ride. I will be looking to see if it has any changes in that feel as the miles pile up. Otherwise I like the unique look and the ethos behind the company is attractive. I would like to see a finishing tape developed that would be along similar lines as Grepp’s ideals for this product. Using electrician’s tape is effective, but it seems at odds with the overall feel of this product. But that is a slight philosophical nit-pick.
Overall it has been a good experience so far. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on the Grepp tape to come.
Note: Grepp sent the Handle Bar Tape to Riding Gravel at no charge for test and review. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this post and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.